Breaking news, rankings, predictions and analysis all in one place.

College Football Picks 2019: Week Fourteen

Current Picks Record: 74-30 (6-8 Upset)
(#12) Wisconsin Badgers @ (#8) Minnesota Golden Gophers
Rashod Bateman & Tyler Johnson, Minnesota
The Big Ten West all comes down to this, as Minnesota hopes to keep Paul Bunyan's Axe in Minneapolis in College GameDay's first ever visit to campus. An explosive aerial attack has been crucial to the surprising campaign for the Gophers, with QB Tanner Morgan getting better each week. He was beat up following the Iowa game, but looked fine this past weekend. He has a formidable 1-2 punch to work with at receiver in Tyler Johnson & Rashod Bateman, who pose a difficult challenge for a solid Badger secondary. Bateman in particular has played his best football in the biggest moments, while Johnson will hope to conclude his Minnesota career on a high note. With that being said, it was actually Minnesota's ground game that fueled their upset of Wisconsin last fall. A heavy dose of Rodney Smith & Shannon Brooks, also playing their final home game with the Gophers, should be expected. It won't be easy getting anything against this Wisconsin rush defense, which remains top-notch, led by a deep and experienced linebacker corps. The Minnesota offensive line is going to have to have a good game, as they've struggled to remain consistent throughout 2019. On the other side of the ball, the Gopher defense faces an obvious challenge against Jonathan Taylor. They did a good job containing Taylor in this matchup a season ago, but the rush defense has been inconsistent. A healthy Kamal Martin, who has dealt with various injuries throughout the second half of the year, will be vital for Minnesota. Even if Taylor is able to get this offense going, Jack Coan is going to have to make some big throws. Coan has been rock-solid all season long, but this is a tough Gopher secondary to throw against. Antoine Winfield Jr. in particular is a real ball-hawk who was instrumental in the Penn State upset. Wisconsin will do all they can to attack the defense in other ways, so guys like Coney Durr and Jordan Howden are going to have to step up. It will be fascinating to see how the Badgers try to open things up; they've used jet sweeps and other gadget plays this season more frequently than in year's past. A.J. Taylor in particular is a guy they like to use in a variety of different ways, along with Aaron Cruickshank. They did have some issues with turnovers doing so last weekend against Purdue, which can't happen against a Gopher team that knows how to capitalize off them. All in all, this is an extremely difficult game for me to pick. As a long-time Gopher fan, I may be biased, but this is an undoubtedly a strong Badger team that also wants revenge for last year's loss. I lean Minnesota only because of the home field advantage, but the rush defense has to show up if they want to take home the victory.
The Pick: Minnesota, 27 Wisconsin, 24

(#1) Ohio State Buckeyes @ (#13) Michigan Wolverines
Michigan's Playoff hopes have been extinguished for weeks now, but the Wolverines still play the role of spoiler in this year's edition of "The Game." This Michigan team is playing their best football of the season after the slow start to 2019. An offense that really struggled to get things going is trending up at the right time. Quarterback Shea Patterson especially is playing with a lot more confidence and comfortability. It has also helped that the Wolverine ground game has been humming along, as well as the emergence of wide outs Nico Collins and Ronnie Bell. That offense will be have to execute for the entire sixty minutes, because this Buckeyes team isn't slowing down either. Both sides of the ball are dominating, including a defense that was question mark for a big chunk of 2018. Not only is Chase Young the most dominant defender in the sport, Ohio State also features a physical, well-rounded secondary. Jeffrey Okudah, a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award, has been crucial in a couple of OSU's big wins, and he'll be tasked with taking on Bell in this one. On offense, Justin Fields and J.K. Dobbins are an imposing duo in this backfield. Fields is a tall task for any defense he plays as a dual threat with a huge arm that simply doesn't turn the ball over. He hasn't seen a defense that is quite as aggressive as Michigan yet this year, so it will be interesting to see how he handles the pass rush. The matchup between Dobbins and the Wolverine rush defense is also going to be well worth a watch. After their rough start to the season, Michigan has found a way to slow down opposing rushing attacks, but Dobbins is a different breed. If that isn't enough, Ohio State can also hit you with their playmakers on the outside, namely K.J. Hill and Chris Olave. Stopping all these offensive weapons hasn't been accomplished by any team yet this season. However, UM has been preparing all season long for this offense, and I'm sure Jim Harbaugh and Don Brown will have them hungry and ready to go. The momentum the Wolverines are playing with this should make this is a competitive game, and at some point Harbaugh is going to find a way to down the Buckeyes. But, I just don't think this is the year. This Ohio State team is just playing too good of football, and they should still be able to get the job done in Ann Arbor.
The Pick: Ohio State, 34 Michigan, 24

(#5) Alabama Crimson Tide @ (#15) Auburn Tigers
Much like Michigan, Auburn has a chance to ruin their rival's season this Saturday, as a win would certainly knock Alabama out of the Playoff conversation. The Tigers still remain an extremely streaky team, but there is no denying their talent. On offense, true freshman quarterback Bo Nix continues to mature, while the ground attack is still finding their groove. "Boobie" Whitlow and D.J. Williams have had their moments, but they will have to really be running hard to get this Auburn offense rolling. The good news is that this Alabama rush defense is the weakest they have had in recent memory, with a load of injuries throughout the front seven. On the outside, the Tide also have to find a way to contain budding star Seth Williams, along with speed demon Anthony Schwartz. This is a good Alabama secondary, headlined by Trevon Diggs and Patrick Surtain Jr., but it was also the group that was shredded by Joe Burrow & LSU. Bo Nix is no Burrow, but he still has shown he can move the ball down the field when he gets adequate protection. The real strength for Auburn, however, is not their offense but their defense, a real change-of-pace for them under Gus Malzahn. The defensive line in particular is among the best in the entire nation, including future NFL contributors Derrick Brown, Nick Coe and Marlon Davidson. This pass rush presents a real challenge for Alabama backup Mac Jones, who has thrust into the starting role at QB after Tua Tagovailoa's injury. Jones has done an admirable job replacing the superstar signal-caller, and it helps that he is surrounded by NFL-caliber talent at wide out. Despite the fact that he was robbed off being a Biletnikoff Award finalist, DeVonta Smith will open up the offense on the perimeter, while tailback Najee Harris grinds up the middle. Beyond the D-Line, the defense has had its moments, but there is a lot of speed and explosiveness to contain. Coordinator Kevin Steele is well-respected in the league, but he will need his defense to tackle in space and force mistakes. I'm really intrigued to see what they can bring to the table beyond an elite pass rush. Taking a backup into the Iron Bowl on the Plains is going to be daunting for any program, but this is Alabama, and they'll perform. If the rest of the offense is up for it, the Tide should still find a way to put up enough points. That should be enough, unless Nix suddenly takes a turn.
The Pick: Alabama, 35 Auburn, 30

Other Picks
Texas A&M @ (#2) LSU: LSU, 42 Texas A&M, 28
(#7) Oklahoma @ (#21) Oklahoma State: Oklahoma, 41 Oklahoma State, 36
(#3) Clemson @ South Carolina: Clemson, 38 South Carolina, 17
Oregon State @ (#14) Oregon: Oregon, 33 Oregon State, 28
Upset: Kansas State, 27 Iowa State, 21

No comments:

Theme images by LUGO. Powered by Blogger.